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Businesses large and small grapple with staffing shortages

It’s not just small businesses that are struggling with a lack of staff, as Tim Horton’s downtown location had to this week due to a lack of staff.

A sign posted inside the Centre Square Mall explained to customers that the location would be closed from September 18 to September 26.

Finding qualified staff for businesses was a debate point during the recent federal election.

Tim Horton’s downtown location is closed till the 26th. (Photo by Andrew Brohart/MyTrueNorthNow.com.)

But Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce President Deneen Everett says finding enough workers has been a long standing problem for businesses in the city.

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“Attracting and retaining staff is one of the top issues facing Yellowknife businesses right now. We’re hearing it from many of our members, across all sectors,” she said in an email.

“While the pandemic has exacerbated the issue, employee shortages have frequently been one of the top issues facing Yellowknife businesses over the last 8 years,” she added. “We believe the key to Yellowknife’s prosperity is growth – increasing our population and attracting more business and investment to Yellowknife.”

Other businesses have been struggling to find workers. The NWT Brewpub in Old Town was shut for weeks after it intended to open for its annual maintenance, due to a lack of staff.

“Without staff, it’s unclear what the future looks like and your local brewpub cannot continue to operate and provide the level of service and hours you would like if we simply do not have anyone to deliver these services,” the pub wrote on its website.

During the NNSL/NWT Chamber of Commerce debate, NDP candidate Kelvin Kotchilea said investing in the tourism industry — especially supporting Indigenous governments involvement in the industry — would help attract more people to the NWT.

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Independent candidate Jane Groenewegen agreed, adding immigration was an area where the NWT could help attract more skilled workers. 

The NWT had the lowest unemployment rate of any jurisdiction in Canada in August, and has done for much of the past year. 

Unemployment was at 4.7 per cent, lower than the national average of 5.5 per cent. 

Usually low unemployment is a good thing, but The Conference Board of Canada said that too low an unemployment rate can mean a lack of available workers.

A 2007 study by Norwegian economists said that figure could be lower than — the NWT came close in July with an unemployment rate of 4.3 per cent —can mean there aren’t enough employees available.

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